I am not Commissioner Gordon

24

NOVEMBER, 2015

When I tell someone I am a Commissioner for the Missouri Public Service Commission I usually get a blank stare in return as people try to figure out what that means. My friends almost all replied “Oh cool, like in Batman.”

Even a few, who were not as comic book inclined, or were die hard Marvel fans and the mere utterance of anything DC Comic related would violate some long ago taken oath where they swore allegiance to Stan Lee while in the middle of a D&D game in the early 1980s, would reply “Oh, the Commish” relating to the 1990’s TV show starring Michael Chicklis. In the beginning I would try and explain the role of the public service commissioner and what we did and who we regulated, but after 30 seconds into my explanation I could see their eyes glaze over and the sound of “Bueller, Bueller, Bueller” echoing in their head.

So I thought it was time that I attempted to explain what a public service commissioner is, but rather than bore you with a long diatribe you could read online, I will explain it in a series of short, one-line sentences, depending on who the audience is.

For my conservative friends:

I am part of the government bureaucracy that sets prices that utilities can charge their customers because utilities do not operate entirely in the free market.

For my liberal friends:

I am the last line of defense against energy corporations from taking advantage of the little guy.

For my economist friends:

I establish the marginal cost for utilities, and set rates at that point to avoid under production to maximize profits in relation to the market price set by the highly inelastic demand curve.

What I tell my mother:

I continue to work for the betterment of the people by making sure everyone has access to affordable and reliable energy to grow their business and support their families.

For my lawyer friends:

The Missouri Public Service Commission regulates investor-owned electric, natural gas, steam, water and sewer utilities in Missouri. In addition, the Commission regulates the operational safety of the state’s rural electric cooperatives and municipally owned natural gas utilities. The Commission also regulates manufacturers and dealers of manufactured homes and modular units, and enforces initial home or unit installation. The Commission was established in 1913. There are five commissioners on the Public Service Commission.

And to everyone else:

I am trying to understand a hugely complicated system of providing energy to millions of people in Missouri. I am attempting to make sure there is enough energy so when everyone needs it, it is available at the flip of a switch, while at the same time, trying to keep the costs as low as possible. I am not an expert, not even close; but I have a track record of educating myself on important issues and making decisions that are in the best interest of Missourians. At times my decisions may be unpopular to some industries and constituencies, but in the end, is the right thing to do. I’m no Gary Oldman (hands down is the best Commissioner Gordon. Ever.) and the only thing I have in common with Commissioner Tony Scali is his hairline. I just hope to make a complicated and technical industry more understandable to the average family. And I believe in open and transparent communication between the rate payers and the commission.

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